Israel Intends to Ban Sales of Fur

The environment minister has called the fur trade "immoral".

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Shopping for fur coat
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Israel could be the first country in the world to ban the sale of animal fur. While laying out a plan for new regulations, environment minister Gila Gamliel vehemently criticized the sale and use of fur in clothing, saying that

"The fur industry causes the killing of hundreds of millions of animals around the world, and involves indescribable cruelty and suffering ... Utilizing the skin and fur of wildlife for the fashion industry is immoral."

Gamliel stated that Israel intends to make it illegal to sell fur and fur products, unless someone has a special permit to do so. These permits would be issued only "in cases of scientific research, education or for instruction and for religious purposes or tradition" (via BBC). The religious loophole is crucial, since some orthodox Haredi Jews wear hats called "shtreimels" that are made from fur. 

Israel's Society for the Protection of Animals spoke out against the religious loophole, calling the use of shtreimels "a primitive way to practice Judaism to cause so much pain to animals." It said it hopes religion will not continue to be an excuse to carry on the fur trade.

The new regulation appears to have public support. Animal rights advocacy group Animals Now told the Jerusalem Post that an earlier survey found "86% of Israelis expressed a clear position that caging, torturing and brutally killing foxes, minks, dogs and cats for extravagant and unnecessary fashion items is unacceptable" and that Gamliel's "important decision will save countless animals." 

No other country has implemented a full ban on fur sales, although some governments have phased out fur farms. Only some individual cities, including São Paulo, and the entire state of California have banned the sale outright. Whether or how the regulation would affect the sale of leather in Israel is unclear, although one might argue that leather is a byproduct of the meat industry, as opposed to exotic furs that are raised for the sole purpose of using in apparel. 

The regulation reflects a broader shift that's occurring in many developed nations where wearing animal fur makes people increasingly uncomfortable. Luxury brands are moving away from it, and some major fashion shows have opted out of it entirely. With so many non-animal-based alternatives available, it seems unnecessarily cruel to kill animals for warmth and adornment. On the other hand, not all of those cruelty-free alternatives are environmentally friendly and, if sourced from petroleum-based ingredients, can end up causing harm to wildlife once discarded in a landfill at the end of their usable life.

According to Israel's new regulation, anyone caught selling fur without a permit could be fined up to US$22,000 or spend a year in prison.